by Michaela Pershe, Birthright of Pittsburgh Volunteer
Pregnancy and childbirth are transformative times in a woman’s life as she prepares to be a mother for her new baby. There are many emotions and things to think about during this process that might feel overwhelming or lonely to pregnant women at times. Mothers should take care of themselves so they can care for their growing little ones. Emotional health during pregnancy and during labor is one aspect of self-care. Having the emotional and physical support of decisions you might encounter during pregnancy are crucial to an expectant woman’s well-being.
During pregnancy, your doctor or midwife are invaluable sources of support. They are able to answer any questions or concerns you may have and are always a phone call away. Many hospitals offer childbirth classes that explain the process of childbirth, along with a tour of the hospital so that you will feel ready and equipped with helpful information when you undergo labor and come in to deliver your baby. Your doctor or midwife can also refer you to different mother/parenting groups near your neighborhood so you can connect with other pregnant mothers. Immeasurable support to new mothers is often found in support groups.
Some women have family members, friends or partners who encourage and support them through pregnancy, although that is not the reality for everyone. One option for a labor support person might be a doula. A doula is trained to help and advocate for you during labor so you can make informed decisions about your health and your baby’s health. You can ask your doctor about doulas in the area where you live. Many doulas provide community work for free or for very little compensation. There are also doulas on staff at some hospitals. They will remain with you through the entire duration of your labor to encourage and support you.
Birthright has trained volunteers to assist you at the local Birthright office in your neighborhood. All Birthright services are free. While you are pregnant, volunteers call you weekly to see how you are, offer encouragement, friendship and provide assistance with community resources for you before your baby is born. During your pregnancy and beyond, they are there for you to enable you to experience the incredible rewards of motherhood and parenting your new baby.